Shawn Neely, a sophomore swimmer at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, has started a GoFundMe page to help pay his medical expenses as he fights with his second bout of cancer.
In July 2022, after placing 2nd in the 100m fly and 4th in 50m free at the Bahaman National Championships, Neely was hit with bad news. What should have been a jumping pad to a great summer and fall season ended up being a diagnosis of Metastatic Paratesticular Rhabdomyosarcoma Cancer.
The disease is a rare and aggressive form of cancer most often found in children and adolescents.
“After a 4 month battle, I finally had surgery to remove the cancerous tumor but unfortunately losing one of my testicles in the process after a successful surgery, I was eventually cleared of all cancer,” Neely wrote. “However, life had other plans for me.”
Neely returned to swimming after just a few months off, rejoining his teammates at Delta State in the winter. DSU is a Division II school that competes in the New South Intercollegiate Swimming Conference. At February’s conference championships, the men’s team placed first, scoring 1,007.5 points. Individually, Neely placed 9th in the 50-yard free (20.65), 15th in the 100 free (46.78), 12th in the 100 fly (49.94) and 13th in the 100 breast (58.88). He also led off the second-place 400 freestyle relay.
A few months after this meet and almost a year after his first diagnosis, he “… began experiencing severe pain in my abdomen and had to be hospitalized. In the beginning, I was told that I have a 6-inch mass growing and I was eventually informed that my cancer had returned but migrated to my right abdominal area.”
Neely set up this GoFundMe page to help cover his medical expenses. He notes that “my University’s health insurance will not cover my medical expenses because my condition is pre-existing.”
After being set up only three days ago, the fundraiser has raised nearly $35,000 of his $50,000 goal thanks to over 500 contributors.
“By contributing to this campaign, you will provide me the opportunity with the financial support I desperately need to continue fighting this rare cancer without the constant worry of crippling medical debt,” Neely wrote. “Thank you from the depths of my heart for standing by me in this battle against cancer. Your generosity and belief in me give me strength, hope, and the determination to keep fighting so I can have to ability to dive into a pool again. With sincere gratitude, Shawn W. Neely.”